Monthly Archives: April 2016

Statistics Point to Hard Times for US Economy

We keep hearing that the economy is recovering, if it hasn’t already recovered, from the disastrous economic climate which began with the crash of 2008. Yet many Americans still feel insecure about the future. They are not imagining things: hard statistics unfortunately supports this negative feeling.

•    The middle class is getting smaller while the lower class and richest Americans are growing in numbers. Today about 50 million live below the poverty line, the largest number in US history. As many as 40 percent of all Americans are forced to spend over 50 percent of their incomes on food and housing.

•    The shrinking middle class is driving consumer fear of spending. According to the Commerce Department retail sales slowed by 0.3 percent last month. Not a good sign when Wall Street has predicted a 0.1 percent gain. Car sales were down by 2.1 percent, and restaurants are among the countries weakest sectors.

•    Incomes have been dropping. When you adjust for inflation, even states in which minimum wage was increased are experiencing a lowering of wages.

•    The amount of debt that individuals are carrying continues to climb. This is a major issue when we realize that auto loans are valued at over one trillion dollars. The average balance per person is $12,000, using almost 8 percent of the average borrower’s disposable income.

•    Taxes are eating up more income than ever. Tax freedom day, defined as the day of the year after January 1st in which the yearly tax bill has been paid, arrived on April 24 this year. Translation: all Americans together had to work 114 days during 2016 just to pay the national tax bill.

Burger King Employees Break Store Window in Response to Malicious Prank Call

A new scam seems to be developing around the country: A caller asks to speak to the manager of a fast food restaurant and convinces him that if all the glass windows and doors are not immediately broken, the restaurant will explode from a dangerous gas leak.

Several fast food restaurants have been convinced by the authoritative-sounding caller to actually carry out his malicious instructions: three Burger Kings, one Wendy’s and one Jack in the Box around the country.

The latest victim was last Friday when a Burger King in Coon Rapids, Minnesota received the deceptive phone call.

The caller identified himself as an official from the fire department. He asked to speak with the manager, and told him that there was a dangerous and explosive gas gathering pressure inside the building. He told them that the best way to alleviate the pressure and prevent a huge explosion was to break all the windows as soon as possible.
Police Captain Tom Hawley described what happened next.

“The employees ran out to their cars and got tire irons to break out the restaurant windows. About 20 windows were busted out,” Hawley said.

Hawley added that similar incidents have taken place in California, Arizona and Oklahoma.

“We are touching base with (some) jurisdictions to see if they are related,” Hawley explained. “Whoever did this could be charged with several things, including felony terrorist threats and felony criminal damage to property.”

Boeing Cutting Workforce by 10 Percent

Interior of Boeing Factory, Seattle. Photo by Meutia Chaerani / Indradi Soemardjan

Interior of Boeing Factory, Seattle. Photo by Meutia Chaerani / Indradi Soemardjan

Due to intense global competition in the aviation industry, Boeing is reportedly planning to reduce its workforce by 8,000 jobs, representing 10 percent of its Washington State employees.

The aerospace giant said it will eliminate 4,000 jobs in its commercial airliner division. Approximately one third of those cuts will come from voluntary resignations, while the rest will be from leaving job openings unfilled.

“While there is no employment reduction target, the more we can control costs as a whole the less impact there will be to employment,” Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said.

Adler said that the job cuts would include hundreds of managers and executives, but would not be done via forced layoffs.

The Seattle Times reported that Boeing, which is one of the largest in the industry and has dominated the sector for decades, was looking to reduce the workforce overall by 10 percent, or a total of 8,000 jobs in Washington.

Last month the chief executive of Boeing’s airplane business, Ray Conner, said that layoffs were needed to “win in the market, fund our growth and operate as a healthy business.”